Paris, the city of love, the city of lights, whether you are a first traveler or not there is always something new to discover in this magic city. It would take a lifetime to explore it all, this is why I created for you the ultimate Paris travel guide to help you through your Parisian adventure.
I am a French native and I lived in the 15th arrondissement of Paris for 5 years, I come back sometimes to visit the city and I am never bored of it. It is always a pleasure to visit the charming monuments, museums, enjoy the delicious French food, and experience tons of activities.
The ultimate Paris travel guide will help you to plan your trip, save money and get the most of the city.
What to expect
Language: French, but most people can communicate in English
Paris is generally a safe city for tourists. Nevertheless like everywhere you have to be aware of your surroundings. Stay vigilant in crowded areas, and keep your belongings secure as pickpocketing can be a concern in the city. Also, be cautious at night and stay in busy areas.
The arrondissements of Paris
Paris is divided into 20 districts named ”arrondissements”. Each district has its own charm and landmarks.
To make this ultimate Paris travel guide as easiest as possible, I have created that Paris small map to give you an overview of the city and make it easier for you to find yourself in the city. I have highlighted the main monuments and landmarks in red and the main parks in green. As you can notice the most important and interesting places to explore are not far away from each other.
When to visit Paris
In Paris, each season features its own charm, so the best season to visit Paris depends on your preferences and interests.
Here is a breakdown of each season to help you choose the best one for you :
Spring (March to May): During spring the weather starts to warm up, it is a popular time to visit Paris as the city comes alive with greenery and blooming flowers. It’s a great time to explore the city of love and experience outdoor activities like giant easter egg hunting. Nevertheless, during the spring break period and Easter, it can be very busy.
Summer (June to August): Summer is for me the best season to visit Paris, it is the perfect period to discover the vibrant atmosphere of the city. The weather is warm and there are plenty of events, festivals, and outdoor activities to enjoy. However, the city can be more crowded with higher accommodation prices.
Autumn (September to November): Autumn is a lovely time to visit Paris, the weather remains pleasant, and the summer crowd starts to dissipate. Paris parks and gardens become a picturesque setting with beautiful fall colors it is the ideal time to take your best pictures in the city. It is also easier to explore the main attractions of the city as there are less tourists.
Winter (December to February): During winter, the weather is cold with occasional rainfall, it is the low tourist season in Paris. Although, it is a great season to experience Paris like a local. The festive decorations and Christmas markets are incredible, and it is one of the best cities in the world to spend a memorable New Year.
For me, the best seasons to visit Paris are Autumn and Summer but if you have already visited Paris during these two seasons you should really try to spend New Year and Christmas in the city at least one time. If you do that try to make some of the main activities mentioned in this Paris travel guide to live a new and different experience.
How long to stay in Paris
The duration of your stay in Paris depends on your personal interests, and what you want to see and do in Paris. In this Paris travel guide, you will find everything you need to plan your trip in Paris whatever the duration.
To get a great taste of the city, you should plan to stay at least 3 days in Paris to explore the main landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and more.
If you want to dive deeper into Paris culture, art, and history, you should extend your stay to a week or more.
Here are some itineraries :
How to get around Paris
Get to the center
From the airport never take a taxi to get to the center but a better option for public transport. There are shuttles and RER that link both Orly and Charle de Gaulle airports to the center of Paris.
Paris has an easy-to-use transportation network. The best way to get around the city is to use the metro, RER, and buses. A single ticket costs 2.10 Euros while a carnet of 10 costs 16.90 Euros
You can also opt for a “Navigo pass” that will cost you around 35 Euros per week.
As Paris is a walkable city, you can get around the city on foot. Also, you can opt for e-scooters or e-bikes. You will find plenty of e-bike stations all over the city, you just have to download the app (Lims, Dott, and Tier).
Where to stay in Paris
You can easily commute by metro between the different Paris arrondissements, so if you want to get the most out of your trip to Paris I advise you to take accommodation in one of the main arrondissements of the city. You can choose one of the hotels recommended in this Paris travel guide according to your budget and the place you wish to stay in.
Here are some places to stay in Paris I recommend :
|Area||Best hotel||Price range|
|Eiffel Tower||3 Ducks Hostel||$|
|Canal St.martin||Generator Hostel||$$|
|Gare du Nord||St. Christopher’s||$$|
What to see and do in Paris
In this Paris travel guide, I give you information about the history of each landmark to make you learn about French history and culture. I also give you the prices for each place and tips to save money.
Built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Eiffel Tower was designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel and was named ”the metal asparagus”. Measuring 324 meters (1,063 feet) tall, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world at the time. Initially, it was intended to be a temporary structure, but it became a symbol of Paris. Today, the tower attracts millions of visitors per year and is one of the most recognized monuments in the world.
The Eiffel Tower is a must-do if you visit Paris. You can go to the top of the tower by stairs or by elevator. The tickets are between 16 to 26 Euros, depending on the floor you want to go to. I strongly advise you to get there earlier if you want to avoid the crowd and get directly to the top by elevator.
If you want to save money you can opt for the River Cruise and Eiffel Tower tickets.
Built as a fortress in the 12th century, the Louvres was transformed into a royal palace during the Renaissance and became the main residence of French Kings. In 1793, during the French Revolution, the Louvre opened as a public museum and is now the biggest museum in the world.
The museum exposes millions of artifacts and pieces of art including the famous Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. Visit the Louvre Museum is also a must-do in Paris. You can get an overall idea of their collection in 2 – 3 hours of visit or spend an afternoon or a full day in it if you are a museum lover and want to explore it deeper.
The admission tickets cost 17 Euros and the skip the line tickets cost 34 Euros. If you want to save money you can get the Louvres Museum timed entrance and Seine Cruise which costs only 25 Euros.
The Museum is beautiful on the inside as well as on the outside. You can spend the afternoon there visiting ”le jardin des Tuileries”, ”Place de la Concorde” and the cute small boutiques around.
In this Paris travel guide, I recommend you spend a day in the Musée du Louvres area as the setting is beautiful and charming.
The cathedral ”Notre-dame” is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The construction of Notre Dame took approximately two centuries to complete (1163 – 1334). Unfortunately on April 15, 2019, the structure was severely damaged by a devastating fire. Work is ongoing to renovate and preserve the monument. The reopening of the landmark is planned for December 8th, 2024.
Montmartre is a bohemian and artistic neighborhood with a long history. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Montmartre was a hub for popular artists like Vincent Van Gigh and Pablo Picasso. The Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur is a symbol of national reconciliation after the defeat of Paris against the Prusse.
You can get free breathtaking views of Paris from the Basilica of the Sacré-Coeur. The entrance to the basilica is free. For only 6 Euros you can climb the 300 steps to the top of the dome of the basilica and get a panoramic view of the city.
If you want to learn more about the story of this neighborhood, you can book a walking tour that includes a visit to the basilica.
Seine River Cruise
A must-do activity to experience in Paris is the Seine River cruise dinner or lunch.
Enjoying a delicious fine French cuisine with an a la carte 3-4 courses meal or a lunch, while admiring panoramic views of the city is the best way to explore Paris. The river cruises provide a unique perspective on the city’s monuments. The boat pass in front of all the main landmarks of the city as well as famous bridges like the Pont Alexandre III.
The cruises duration is between 1h30 to 2h30 and the price for a cruise starts from 60 Euros per person.
As I experienced it myself with ”Tosca Cruise” as a local, I can say that it remains an unforgettable experience to this day. I recommend you to get to the boat in advance because the departure point can sometimes be hard to find.
It is for me the best experience I can recommend in this Paris travel guide.
Arc de Triomphe
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments of Paris as it is the largest triumphal arch in the world. The monument is located at the end of ”Boulevard des Champs Elysées” in the center of ”Place de l’étoile”.
In 1806 Napoleon Bonapart comissioned the ”Arc de Triomphe” to honor the French army victories. The construction was completed only in 1836 after his reign. The monument features neoclassical roman architecture, the names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces.
A ticket for arc de triomphe rooftop costs only 12 Euros. There are no escalator but 284 steps to climb to get on the top and a enjoy a breathtaking view on Paris.
The ”Boulevard des champs Elysées” is one of the most famous streets in the world. Streching from the Arc de triomphe to Place de la concorde, the boulevard features luxurious cafes, boutiques and restaurants. The boulevard comes alive at night illuminated by sparkling lights. If you want to take great pictures, it is always better to come early morning, to avoid the crowd. If you want to learn more about the street and its history you can take a guided tour.
The Musée d’Orsay has the largest number of famous paintings in the world from popular painters like Monet, Pissaro, Renoir, or Morisot. It is the best place to admire impressionist and post-impressionist art. The Museum occupies the former Orsay station.
The tickets for this museum costs only 16 Euros, if you are planning to visit multiple museums in Paris, I recommend you take the museum Pass, which gives you access to all the museums for cheap.
Built-in the 13th century by King Louis, this Chapelle is a jewel of Paris’s heritage, one of the most beautiful chapels in Paris. The chapel’s stained glass windows display biblical stories, and the Gothic architecture inside is exquisite. An entry ticket costs 11 Euros and should be booked in advance.
Palace of Versailles
Transformed into a grand palace and the center of political power by King Louis XIV also named ”Le Roi Soleil” (King of Sun), the Palace of Versailles is the symbol of the absolute monarchy’s splendor and dominance in Europe. In 1789 the French Revolution led to the end of the monarchy and the conversion of the palace into a museum.
It is a perfect place to experience French history and see the residence of various French monarchs. This castle is absolutely beautiful as well as its gardens, the luxury, design, and architecture are marvelous. The most emblematic room in the castle is the Hall of Mirrors, it is a grand baroque-style gallery, it is the most glamorous and elegant room of the palace.
I advise you to dedicate a whole day to visiting the castle, book in advance and get there in the morning to avoid the crowd. The Palace of Versailles is the most beautiful Palace I have recommended in that Paris travel guide.
Due to overcrowded cemeteries, during the end of the 18th century, the remains of more than 6 million Parisians were transported to the former underground quarries, originally constructed as a mining tunnel and used by the French resistance during world war 2. The catacombs are one of the most macabre and coolest I propose in this Paris travel guide.
Catacombs skip-the-line tickets and an audio guide cost only 28 Euros and are likely to sell out, so you should book in advance. The audio guide will allow you to learn so much more about French history. Last minutes tickets cost only 14 Euros but they are often sold out.
French food is one of the most delicious foods in the world. Taking a food tour is the best way to immerse yourself in French culture. If you love food and want to know what makes each dish special through its culture and history. A food tour is a perfect activity for you.
There are plenty of food tours to experience in Paris, according to your preference, you can opt for a wine and cheese tour, a chocolate and pastry tour, or a tour that combines all of that.
A gastronomic bus tour in Paris can also be a good option to enjoy French food while discovering the city.
I have never made a food tour in Paris as I am a French native, but I recommend it to you in my Paris travel guide as I know that it is one of the best ways to experience the culture of a country.
Situated in the Latin neighborhood, this neoclassical building is a symbol of the monarchy. It was transformed from a church into a place to honor those who died fighting for France like victor hugo or marie curie. Like for most of the other monuments you have to book your tickets in advance, the ticket entry costs only 11,50 Euros.
Where to eat in Paris
France is known among the countries with the best gastronomy in the world. There are plenty of options to eat in Paris. The best food experience you can try in Paris would be to eat in one of the famous Michelin Parisian-starred restaurants.
It can maybe surprises you but some of the michelin restaurants offer bargain price for lunchtime. The prices are between 40 to 75 Euros per person. Just check out this list of 7 affordable Michelin-starred restaurants that won’t break the bank.
If you want to try some French traditional meals in Paris on a budget, you will find your everything you want in Saint-Michel. The Saint-Michel neighborhood is situated in the 5th and 6th arrondissements of Paris. The place is accessible with the metro lines 4 and 10, or the RER C.
In Saint-Michel, you will find a wide range of restaurants offering delicious food at a bargain price. Their carte always includes traditional French meals such as les escargots, onion soup, steak tartare, or the boeuf bourguignon.
Boulangeries and crêperies
Most of the boulangeries of Paris offer menu deals, with a sandwich or salad, a drink, and a dessert for an affordable price. Moreover, trying iconic French pastries like pain au chocolat, macarons, Paris-Brest, eclairs and more is a must-do in Paris. So, go to one of the best boulangeries in Paris and enjoy your degustation.
You can also opt for a delicious salted traditional French crepe. The ”Crepes Bretonnes” are part of the French culture, try some of these amazing Paris crêperies recommended by timeout.
Pieces of Advice to save money
Get a “Navigo Pass” (Metro card): The easiest way to commute into Paris is by metro. You can buy a carnet of 10 tickets which costs only 16,90 euros. Or you can opt for a tourist one-week pass, which costs 35 Euros and include zone 1 to 5.
Eat for cheap: To eat for cheap, you can opt for a picnic in the numerous wonderful parks of the city. Just go to the nearest boulangerie and supermarket to buy a French bread baguette and anything you want to fill your sandwich with whatever you want (tuna, salmon, cheese …), you can add a drink and some chips.
Get the Paris museum pass: The Paris museum pass gives you access to more than 70 museums and monuments in Paris. A 2 days pass costs 52 Euros, a four-day pass 66 Euros and a 6 days pass 78 Euros. It is a great way to save money while visiting multiple museums.
Take a free walking tour: You are not obliged to pay to enjoy the city of lights. You can simply choose a self-guided walking tour in the city or create your own and start your adventure exploring Paris.
In this Paris travel guide, I gave you everything you need to plan your trip. If you need more advice on how to experience Paris on budget, check out my post: Paris on Budget: How to experience the City of Lights without breaking the Bank (By a French).
I hope that this ultimate Paris travel guide helped you to get the most out of Paris and create an unforgettable trip.